May 24, 2018

GLASS | The Old College Try

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Divining is a pseudo-scientific and semi-magical practice where with just the aid of a bi-pronged stick, one walks across an expanse of land in an attempt to find underground water by feel and faith alone. It is, perhaps, the only way I can describe how the last four years here at Cornell have felt. After wandering around largely aimlessly with an intense yet misplaced thirst for success driven by a strong aversion to letting people down, while looking objectively silly, I will be the first to admit that despite my best efforts, I did not find water. The Cornell Daily Sun, however, was the closest thing to it.

I was one of those overeager high school newspaper editors-in-chief, which is unfortunately more of a personality type than a job, and I sought out The Sun as a first semester freshman. I remember bussing down to the brick and ivy offices near the Commons and thinking that while it was pretty neat that there were so many people buzzing around and looking so serious, I would just write a few articles and bail.

Consequentially, I failed to bail, and wound up being called upon to try my hand at assistant news editor, a new post that was perfect for overeager high school newspaper editors-in-chief whose routine coverage of lectures and obituaries had been passable in their freshman fall semester. My first night on the job was Super Bowl XLIX, and we were told we would be released in time to watch it. We learned the paper came first that night, and I only managed to return home in time to see the last quarter of the game (this turned out to be a terrible mistake; as a Seahawks fan, I sincerely wish I had missed the end of that game). As fellow freshman editor prospect and Sun legend Phoebe Keller ’18 and I waited for the bus that night in the February cold, we made a pact to work one more day and then bail.

Consequentially, we failed to bail. Despite deleting the front page of the paper on at least two occasions, the race was serendipitously uncontested and I was elected. Phoebe and I had officially launched our illustrious collegiate careers and became semi-professional journalists (and complainers). A list of things I find particularly evocative of the more lighthearted moments: Gorgers soups and sandwiches, urgent trips to CVS, Fox News coverage of Sun coverage, sesquicentennial madness, angry emails, corrections, the undying defense of Sex on Thursday, Lorde, cider, dogs visiting the office, intra-board power plays, dooming endorsements, date night, missed phone calls with anonymous weirdos, forgetting to do budget, killing budget, donuts, deadlines, dumb-quotes and just dumb quotes.

To address the more serious side of things, The Sun taught me that there is immeasurable power in quality journalism. Patient, efficient, fact-based, curious and diligent reporters are sorely necessary in today’s world. The necessary art of telling stories about people, nature, culture, triumphs and crises is being questioned, and so journalists need to be not just great but exceptional to save the industry and prove its worth in the face of doubt. I have had the great honor of working with people whose passion is absolutely unparalleled. If asked to name the top handful of people I admire most at Cornell, a substantial portion of them would be Sunnies, and maybe all of them would be Phoebe. Phoebe, if this sounds like a love letter, it’s because it is one.

Beyond the actual function of The Sun, it was my home. It was warmth, comfort, purpose, motivation and community all in one. It was the closest thing to water on an ambling Cornell path, a steady good during all the hills and the valleys. Thank you to The Cornell Daily Sun for being divine.

Paulina Glass is graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was the associate editor on The Sun’s 134th editorial board and an assistant news editor on the 133rd editorial board. This is a special edition of The Looking Glass.